Review: The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

John Darnielle is back again with the fourteenth record under the name The Mountain Goats. Merge Records released Transcendental Youth on 2 October 2012, after releasing All Eternals Deck in 2011. Transcendental Youth won’t disappoint fans, whether they’ve just discovered them or have been listening for the better part of the last two decades.

“Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive…” is the opening line that hits, moments into The Mountain Goats new album. Beginning with Amy (Aka Spent Gladiator 1), which is full of youthful advise of living life, and playing by your own rules. In the closing moments, the listener is reminded to stay alive, just stay alive.

The second song, Lakeside View Apartment Suite, transitions into a slower pace than the opening track. The tempo and pace vary as each song on the twelve-song journey tells it’s own musical and lyrical journey. Overall the album has a pop-folk feel, with John Darnielle’s voice carrying through the heavy themes of the lyrics, youth and anxiety, and all the left behind people of the world.

The title track, Transcendental Youth, closes out this fourteenth album from The Mountain Goats.  One could visualise sitting in a jazz lounge when the horns come in, apparent and paced. The melodies continue with a whisky drum beat which compliments Darnielle’s story telling lyrics. The track touches on dark, lonely, and lost nights, being broken, both physical items, and mentally. The dark subject matter leaves us with a thought of positivity, to “Sing. Sing high. While the fire climbs. Sing one for the old times.”

With each of the album’s twelve songs taking their own unique travelled path, delving into those who society has written off, Darnielle brings their stories and faces to light with this newest effort.

Tracks of note on Transcendental Youth: Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1, Night Light, and Transcendental Youth.

Victoria Sanders